Full Circle: San Francisco Based Visual Artist J. Journey Jones on Rootlessness & Self-Discovery Thursday 20 December, 2012

Altered Faith 920 x 350

Thought-provoking and visually stimulating, artist J. Journey Jones‘ work is a unique glimpse into the creative soul. A resident of San Francisco, Journey has received her Bachelor of Arts at Mills College and has trained under the tutelage of world renowned artists: accomplished British sculptor Anna Valentina Murch, Chinese-born painter Hung Liu and American ceramicist […]


Thought-provoking and visually stimulating, artist J. Journey Jones‘ work is a unique glimpse into the creative soul. A resident of San Francisco, Journey has received her Bachelor of Arts at Mills College and has trained under the tutelage of world renowned artists: accomplished British sculptor Anna Valentina Murch, Chinese-born painter Hung Liu and American ceramicist Ron Nagle. She has also been a guest artist lecturer at University of California, Berkeley and a recipient of the Herringer Prize.

Journey began her life as a “strange little bird” in the South, an only child with an early penchant for creativity. At a young age, Journey’s curiosity led her to explore her “connection – or lack there of – to deep rooted tradition, the history of my mother’s mother’s mother and beyond, my origins, of home.” After traveling throughout the states and abroad, she came to a moment of self-realization – her expeditions had been a personal confrontation with feelings of discontentment and rootlessness.

As an artist and self-proclaimed “passport-toting artist, mom, and globetrotting wannabe from the Deep South,” Journey seeks to express this discontentment by examining ways in which the individual and the collective take part in the decimation of communal selves. Her work asks us “to pay attention; to give a damn.” Live Unchained is excited to accept this challenge. In this interview, we discuss Journey’s inspirations, aesthetic and creative process.

J. Journey Jones

What made you interested in mixed media art and sculpture?

While working on a piece, I had a moment of frustration that made me ask a similar question.

The answer is two-fold. The first, short answer is I move from my shoulders. It’s a movement that lends itself to big gestural expressions that feels natural to me. And being one that thinks spatially, it’s was the natural progression.

The second is that I do what comes natural to articulating a piece. For example, Death.Pledge. spoke to me about the enormity of what was happening during the global financial collapse. For me, the use of only three simple materials – wood, foil, wire – used in a heavily abstracted way, coupled with its grand dimensions of 25’ X 18’, was the only way to capture the far-reaching calamity that began in housing market.

 Death. Pledge.

You are a self-described “non-traditional media artist,” incorporating paintings, sculpture, and installations into your body of work. What materials do you use?

With my paintings, I am strict in that I use oil paints.

With my three-dimensional works, almost anything is up for grabs. The materials range from glue to wire used in construction. I have used clay in ways that are a departure from creating ceramics, and food stuff.


What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?

Anytime I am able to effectively articulate a work of art, it’s received as intended, and purchased are to be acknowledged as highlights. I’m thankful for that.

However, more importantly, the opportunity to share this experience with my son is top rank. It’s akin a feeling of coming full circle: I have been able to share my experience of being different, living with that difference, express the difference and succeeding despite my difference.

As any young black child, he needs to see the success. And in my view, as a young Black male, even moreso.

Can you give us a peek into your creative process when designing a piece?

I think and ponder and contemplate and think and agonize until the concept reveals itself.

Words are integral to my work. I am sometimes first moved by a phrase, or a song title, see: Strange.Fruit. Other times it’s a feeling that needs the right words to associate with it, e.g., Chair.And.Spear:The.Result.of.Adam.Shapiro. As with pieces like Threshold., it’s the materials that drive the work before the idea is fully developed.

I then work with an unrestrained fervor until the piece like with Custodial.One. is done. It, created from a single sheet of wood, was realized through constant measuring and cutting of the elements and respective angles: its execution may very well be one highlight of my career, lol.

My hope is that if one does not readily connect with the intended statement or meaning of the work, just from seeing the physical manifestation of a piece, they can feel the idea.


What advice can you give to other aspiring artists of the African Diaspora?

A good mentor is a priceless jewel – hard to find, and to be cherished.

My words to another sistah is: be bold; continue to use your voice; study what it means to be and build a brand; execute as a professional in business; feel free to connect and collaborate with me and others.

Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?


Having a vision and sharing it.

Filled with faith and taking the leap.

Receiving the inspiration to keep going.

Keep in touch with Journey on LinkedIn and Twitter @jjourneyj

Written by Aleyna Jones



  • Aleyna- what an incredible collaboration you’ve created here…

    Wonderful insight that all artists and thinkers can grow from & such an insightful interviewer you have developed into.

    Continue to blossom and bringing powerful voices together through your dialogue. Building these intellectual bridges is merely the spawn of something remarkarble

    Much love and encouragement

  • michelle says:

    I have had the sobering experience of viewing photos of some of Journey’s work prior to reading your article. I am blown away by the immensity, in terms of dimension/profundity/labor of Journey’s pieces. Her work has moved me and awakened in me an artistic sensibility I was not aware of prior to first seeing it. Thank you for sharing this incredible artist with your readers. Bravo, Journey! Ashe!

  • Congratulations on that great article, Aleyna it was very interesting. And great work, journey. Though I’m a realistic painter, I too see everything very abstractly. And I don’t think I’ve seen a more important, more true statement as your Death. Pledge. piece in quite sometime. Excellent!

    Have a wonderful holiday and I hope you have a great New Year!


    Frank :)

  • Kevin Ezeoguine says:

    Very insightful pieces of creative work. Very refreshing views/comments..

  • Aleyna, you have somehow encapsulated journey. nicely in your choice of words (something not so easily done, I think). journey., I am so glad that you spoke to the importance of the child of the artist. We often hear of the inner child, but those of us who are artists with “outer” children understand that much of our thought process and action is devoted to them. Here’s to a journalist and artist, both worthy of recognition!

  • Congrats Journey on your interview and your work is looking amazing.

    Keep it up.
    Hope you are well thank you for the post.

  • Eluem says:

    My friend J. Journey Jones created this image in a pseudo-plagiaristic act by altering a famous and iconic painting by the artist Faith Ringold (hence the title “Faith Altered”). This morning, I thought about how appropriate a representation it is for this inauguration day. The dark and star filled minority element of the flag is moved from the periphery to the center.

  • Noteworthy this blog deepens people’s knowledge

  • Damien Carter says:

    Wow! This young lady is amazing and it shows clearly in her work of art. With this type of creativity, it comes far and in between these days. Keep preserving this God talent until the world awakens to it and allow all great forms of art work like Ms. Jones’s free to shine like a candle in darkness. Her work is very much needed. Outstanding body of work. Would love to get to know this beautiful woman, for sure!

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